Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Of course you’re important, but…

with 3 comments

8020ruleI’m sure you’ve heard of the 80/20 rule before. It’s been applied to so many things in so many ways. Here’s the context in which I’m exploring it this week.

You will spend 80 percent of your time on 20 percent of your clients.

Some people just need more handholding. Some people need more coaxing. Some people know they need help, but are unsure about getting off the fence and moving forward with a marketing campaign (for example).

I love those people in the same way that I love vegetables.

The bottom line is your bottom line. There are times in which we find ourselves in a place where we might have to pull back on the attention that we’ve been giving a client simply because they’re receiving too much of our resources. In the past, I’ve been with companies that have made the difficult and unfortuante decision to “fire a client.” It’s not a decision that we ever took lightly, but was forced on us if we wanted to be able to continue to grow.

I’d love to hear if you’ve been in this type of situation and had a successful outcome that we can all learn from. Was it simply a function of better educating a client and turning them into one of the better 80 percents or was there another method you used to rectify the situation?

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Written by Jeff York

December 1, 2008 at 1:12 am

3 Responses

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  1. Hi, Jeff-

    Letting go of clients who simply no longer “fit” is a piece of natural attrition. When in such situations ourselves, we still value those relationships (think: inbound referrals) and we often do our best to recommend these clients to other vendors who might be more appropriate.

    This becomes a win-win for everyone: the client continues to receive service, their [new] vendor gets a piece of referral-based biz, and we have gracefully exited a relationship that no longer makes the most business sense.

    There’s a saying: “Never dump a client on the side of the road. Some day, you might need a ride.” OK, so it’s my own saying. But I’ve followed it for years. 🙂

    -Steve

    Steve Lovelace

    December 4, 2008 at 2:51 am

  2. Steve,

    Absolutely true, hence the title of the blog entry.

    Just as they’re many ways to fire an employee, there are an equal number of ways to separate from a client. Finding them a new home is certainly one of the best ways.

    But, again, the bottom line is your bottom line. I’ve seen many businesses hold on to a client that is sucking their resources dry just because of…I don’t know what. It might be out of history or a sense of obligation. But no matter the justification, taking a step back and honestly evaluating the relationship should reveal it for what it is. And if it’s time to let go, do so wisely and with respect. If you can find them another vendor, so much the better for all concerned.

    But not being able to do so is certainly no reason to remain “married” to the client.

    Jeff York

    December 4, 2008 at 3:20 am

  3. […] had established a relationship with a graphic artist before we started working together. To his credit, he wants to remain loyal to his vendors. That’s why that graphic artist got the call when […]


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